The Happiness Trap (except)

Transitions №7

Author: Andrey Levkin

Translated by Ilya Ash


For example, you can think of everything that happens to a person as taking place in one room: just to look at him that way. He may move around, go somewhere, conceal himself, but life still happens in the same room, even if it is a large one.

And in there — the cooling fans are clattering, waste pipes are rumbling, the fragrance of something boiled (it spreads more slowly but rather farther than a fried one) is wafting out of the food kitchens. All life can be reduced to a single room, the way TV channels fit into a single television set. It is like books, each with its own land inside them, stand on the same shelf.

Even if you count every given thing, a person doesn't have a huge amount of stuff, but them have plenty. And the constructions different people are occupying are pretty similar. These even have a similar smell, not quite the same, but genetically they are akin. Pea soup smells like a pea soup anywhere, but it all adds up to a certain smell of time. Which, in turn, provides some kind of coherent familiarity — for example, the USSR smelled of chlorine, exhaust gases from diesel and 76 petrol, bad cigarette smoke and no deodorant.

Alien entities, i.e. these without regular relations with the person, are almost absent in their house. Sure, some could be present, but – since they haven't made any attempt to contact the householder, for all intents and purposes there are none. The wood bugs too are eating the window sill and the floorboards, but they don't present themselves publicly. There is no need for them to. When their building is big, a person seems somehow better off, but everything is also more complicated for them. Because you have to remember how it all works, besides, it takes a lot of time to explore the building, but how not to examine it when something of great importance lies in some undiscovered nook. It is always seems to be somewhere nearby.

Not only that, but you forget rooms you haven't been to for a while. And how you suppose to go back if you have no blueprint for the estate? Any loss just feels like a forgetfulness, but everything that once was still continues to happen: there's a dripping tap somewhere on some long-forgotten floor, or the chicken from the soup has long since boiled away, settling on white enamel in muddy flakes. Yet the bird once had blue eyes.

Of course, this is a silly outline. Although it does provide material for some novels and TV series – realistic and adventurous: battles with plumbers, electricians (or just observations of plumbers and electricians, carpenters and cabinetmakers, masons and concrete workers fighting each other), lost keys, ambiguous meetings, unreliable attics. Basements and secret passages. And in every room of the building the lights are on, there are already some complete strangers walking around, doing some stuff, so you can invent anything you like about them too – to avoid getting scared of the fact that no-one-knows-whos are walking around there.

This mundane parabole does not explain anything, just labels the place where a person's junk is usually deposited. This is handy: you have to put it away somewhere, anyhow. All those personal archives with old photos. Without such a place, an individual's identity is at risk.

But since the research has already been undertaken (sometimes you have to conduct some research, and this text will serve that purpose, i.e. — without any fictional characters), it is necessary to establish a clear starting point from which to radiate thoughts into space. For now, let it be this building. This thing, the point, can even be just a word on the wall because all your thoughts are contained in ampoules, and when the glass is bitten, their substance vigorously produces all sorts of things, filling the skull with haze. Moreover, each of these thoughts would turn out to be true. After all, even trolleybuses have many different routes, and each of them is right in its own way, even though the city remains the same.